How many of us have made a goal like, I want to be a better mom? I want to be more playful? Or the infamous, I want to eat healthier? You want to become better in some way. We know what it means, or do we? How do we know if we met or goal? So often we will make a goal but there isn’t really a way to make it Specific or Measurable. There are not tasks to check off or really even an ending point. And it isn’t like there is a deadline to say when it is done because we are always trying to grow and become better. And we are not always on an upward growth pattern. Sometimes we slip or have a bad day, week, or month. So how can we make and achieve these vague but still very important goals? Habit trackers!!
What is a Habit Tracker?
Habit Trackers are simply a place to track a habit or action, usually over a month time frame. You make a list of actions you want to do and how often and then, either when they are completed or at a designated time, you mark that you completed (or didn’t do something if that is your goal).
They help to see more clearly the bigger picture than when you are deep in the trenches. It is hard to see past the diapers, late nights, and tantrums to know if we are making progress. Tracking habits allows a more realistic view of how you are doing and where you can improve. Plus, I like visuals, lists, and checking things off.
Calculating at the end of the month and seeing a percentage can give even more clarity. Looking at the chart might look one way, but then looking at the numbers can show you exactly how you did and if you improved. This also helps to make a vague, non-quantifiable goal quantifiable.
Trackers can come in many shapes and styles to fit your need. They can be as simple as a monthly calendar on your fridge and you cross out the days you accomplished your goal. Having it on your fridge helps you see it and reminds you. Or you can make a fancy page in your bullet journal with a list of all your habits.
Something I ran into with ‘traditional’ trackers is that what I was tracking was more than just a yes or no. The nice thing about making your own, rather a monthly calendar, or a chart or whatever, is that you can add a number! Cups of water, miles walked/ran or steps for the day, veggies eaten that day, or even on a scale of 0-10 on staying calm. If you forget to use it, there is always next month to try again. Maybe set a reminder on your phone. Find what works for you.
Something interesting happens that once you start tracking habit. All of a sudden you are more aware of them and you tend to be better about doing them. Maybe it gets to the end of the day and you realize when you are checking off your habits that you haven’t brushed your teeth yet and can run off and do that real quick. Plus there has to be some endorphins that go off when you check a box. Then you begin to see progress over time and think, “Hey, I AM doing it!” and want to keep that going. Or you see that you have a streak going and you don’t want to break it.
Sometimes we tend to just forget! We get to the end of the day and think, “Wait, now how many glasses of water did I drink?” or “Oops, I forgot to brush my teeth, again” or is that last one just me? It is good to just a have reminder of the little things in the day to keep slowly making progress.
If you have more than 5 things, make their own list away from your daily to do list. That way you have the tasks you would like to do on a regular basis without getting it mixed with the other tasks of the day making it look like a forever long list and becoming overwhelmed.
You can start with one or two when you start. But if you are like me you can make a laundry list of things you know you ‘should’ do every day. Try to resist the urge to do it all. Start small, or at least include things that you are doing well so that you start from a place of success and build from there. This isn’t to overwhelm you.
Don’t aim for 100% in all of your habits! You could say that you want to achieve 50% in one habit and 90% in another. Because we all know we can’t do ALL the things all the time. Plus, you might be better at something then another and it would be exhausting to try to make 100 in everything. Plus, things happen. My husband often commandeers my days and nothing I planned for gets done. So, give yourself some grace and shoot for progress not perfection. And having those numbers can help you see better that progression. Say you did 30% this month and can shoot for 40% next month. Only hit 35%? Hey! That’s still progress!! Great job.
Is there an action you can take or stop doing that you can track? Maybe you went all day without yelling. Or you played with your kids today. Think of one action you could challenge yourself with that will help you become more of what you are trying to be. Then for a month track that thing. Breaking down habits that we need in order to be the person we want to be and being mindful will help us get closer to our goal. You CAN do this!! You can get better and better. Slow progress is still progress. How would you like to improve? What simple task can you do to get you there and start tracking it.